DETROIT – U.S. and Canadian authorities request information regarding the whereabouts of a fugitive suspected to be the ring leader of a large-scale narcotics and weapons smuggling operation that spanned both countries.
In October 2013, Khaophone Sychantha, 32, aka Kao, whose last known residence was Lakeshore, Ontario, was charged in a four-count federal indictment with distribution of a controlled substance following a Detroit Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST) investigation.
According to public records in Canada and the United States, Sychantha, a dual citizen of Canada and Laos, is the suspected ring leader of a drug-smuggling organization which supplied millions of Ecstasy pills and hundreds of pounds of marijuana to several distributors located in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Massachusetts, Georgia and New York. Sychantha has also allegedly directed individuals to smuggle millions in bulk cash, guns, cocaine and heroin from the United States into Canada. He absconded before formally answering to the October distribution charges.
The October 2013 charge was the latest in a series of charges and convictions against Sychantha and his associates in both Canada and the United States. Since 2002, federal and Canadian authorities have arrested and convicted more than 25 individuals who were allegedly directed by Sychantha.
Although Sychantha was last living in the Lakeshore, Ontario-area, he has been known to maintain residences in other parts of Ontario including Windsor, LaSalle and Toronto. Sychantha also has strong ties to the United States in Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, and abroad in Mexico, Laos, Hong Kong and Thailand, but authorities believe he may still be residing in the Midwest or southern Ontario.
"We are urging the public to provide any and all information they have about this man’s whereabouts because we know firsthand how powerful public input can be in our investigations," said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Detroit, which leads the Detroit BEST. "Simply put, we want him off the streets."
Last fall, HSI Detroit issued a public appeal for information about a suspected child predator and within 36 hours, the man was in custody.
HSI requests anyone with information about this person contact the agency immediately, in one of two ways:
Call the HSI Tip Line, which is staffed 24 hours a day.
Law enforcement authorities urge the public not to intervene if they come into contact with Sychantha, as he is considered to be armed and dangerous.
The Detroit BEST, established in 2009, identifies, investigates and dismantles transnational criminal organizations and cross border criminal activities, which create vulnerabilities in public safety and national security on the shared northern border between the United States and Canada.
The taskforce is composed of 19 member agencies including HSI, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Field Operations and Office of Border Patrol; the Michigan National Guard Counterdrug Task Force; the Michigan State Police; the Detroit Police Department; the Trenton Police Department; the Troy Police Department; the Canada Border Services Agency; the Ontario Provincial Police; the RCMP; the Windsor Police Service; U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine; the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service; U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations Division; the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Office; the Port Huron Police Department and the County of Macomb Enforcement Team.